Image Tips

What Colors to Wear as an African American Male

I have always struggled with what to wear as an African American Male, so I was wondering if you could answer a few questions for me?

1. I have attached a picture of myself and I’m wondering if I am a cool or warm skin tone? (I have green veins)

2. What kind of jewelry will look best on me? For example, white gold or yellow gold?

3. What colors of clothing would be best for me to wear?

If you have time, it would help me a lot if you could answer these questions.

Best Regards,

Ewane Masango

University of Oklahoma

Business Finance and Philosophy

Hi Ewane,

Thanks for your question and also for sending me your photo. I realize that determining your best colors can be quite a challenge. Since you say your veins are more green hued than blue, I would say that you have a warm skin tone. In the picture your skin tone also appears more brown (warm) than black (cool).

With these details in mind I would suggest that you wear yellow gold jewelry, not white gold or silver.

The colors that will look best will be in the warm yellow tinted colors not colors with blue tints. Choose clothes that are made with the bright colors that occur in nature during the fall season. Since you live in Oklahoma, this will be easy to identify and you should be getting a lot of inspiration in the coming months!

I would love to see you in lime green, pumpkin, saffron, bright orange red etc. If you have a choice between white and ivory or off-white for your shirts, always choose ivory. It is a warm color and will even out your skin tone.

It might be helpful to print a copy of the color wheel in this article and take it with you when you shop to get a better idea of what colors to wear.

When you are shopping and uncertain about the color, ask someone close by if you look healthy or tired when you hold the item up close to your face. If your skin tone looks more even and healthier, you are on the right track. If your face looks tired or your skin tone is more faded, don’t make that purchase.

Also, if you wear something and throughout the day people ask you if you are tired or feeling under the weather, this is a tell tale indication that you are wearing the wrong color and it is probably has more of a blue than a yellow base. I hope this helps!

Best of luck to you. If you find the perfect item or outfit in a color that makes you look and feel fantastic, please send me another photo!

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Choosing the Right Colors for Dark Skin Tones

One of my readers just submitted a comment stating that his/her friends said that they should never wear bright colors because their skin is too dark. I feel that this statement is nonsense and this is my response:

I am sorry to hear that others say your skin is too black to wear bright colors. Too bad for them because they are incorrect and congratulations to you for trying to jazz up your appearance!

Having black skin does not make it inappropriate to wear bright colors. In fact I find bright colors often enhance darker skin tones IF they are right color spectrum for their skin tone, either cool or warm.

What you really need to consider when choosing colors to enhance your image is the warmth or coolness of your skin tone. Skin tones that are cool, will look best in cool tones, warm skin tones will be complimented with warmer tones.

If you look at a basic color wheel, you will see that colors range from warm to cool. So do skin tones.

There are many tricks for determining which side of the spectrum your skin falls under, warm or cool.

One easy method is to get two swatches of cloth about the size of your face, one gold and one silver. Pull your hair back from your face and hold each one up to your face. Notice which one minimizes the shadows and imperfections in your skin. Notice also which one makes you look more tired sallow toned.

If gold makes your skin look even toned, with less imperfections and even glowing or sunny, you have a warm skin tone. If blue enhances your face and makes the lines and imperfections disappear,  your skin tone is cool.

Whatever tone your skin is, you will be able to wear bright colors if they within the tonality of your skin. The perfect colors you choose will fall into bright warm colors or bright cool colors. The color graph below might help you understand which bright colors will be the correct choice for you to wear.

If you still have difficulty determining your skin tone, try this test. Look at the back of your hand. If you have an orange – yellow tint, you are of a warm skin tone. If you have a blue tint, your tone will be of the cooler family.

Another way to tell is look at your veins on the inside of your wrist. if they are green, you probably are a warm tone. If they appear more blue, you are a cool.

I hope this helps. Have fun wearing bright colors. I think it brightens everyones day when you show up wearing the perfect bright pop of color coordinated into a nice outfit! I realize that there is not enough helpful information published for people of color and I will keep writing more articles on this subject, so please check back often!

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Great Colors to Wear for Winter and Summer Skin Tones

Winter and Summer complexions are both cool skin tones with a blue base. These ‘seasons’ so to speak are helpful when determining what clothing to buy and what to wear.

Both of these seasons are best served by wearing cooler or more blue based colors.

Summers differ from winter complexions in that they are a bit softer. Winters will have a large contrast between their skin, hair and eyes where summers will bled more gently together. Because summers are themselves of softer tones, they look best in blended colors, not with dramatic variations. Wearing strong contrasted colors will make them appear overpowered and tired.

Winter complexions are usually more dramatic with a strong contrast between skin, hair and eyes. The combination of black hair, pale skin and blue eyes. is a typical indicator of a ‘winter’ complexion. A strong pairing of contrasting colors will enliven and accent the already intense look of a winter.

Taking notice of the colors in nature during each of these seasons also helps you determine which colors correspond with your tonality. Take for instance the stark contrast of crisp white winter snow and the deep red of a poinsettia.

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Black Dress for the Holidays, Glittery Tops

Dear Kathi,

I have several upcoming dressy events. I am used to wearing one of my suits with a glittery blouse to jazz up for the holidays but this year would like to do it a little better. What should I buy to add some jazz to my holiday outfits?

Jennie, Carlsbad


Glittery tops paired with suits can run the risk of looking like you’ve simply thrown together an outfit for your holiday office party.
Instead, consider tracking down that perfect little black dress this year. There is no replacement for the perfect black dress and it is worth investing your time and money to find the best cut, style and lines for your body shape. Once you have found the perfect black dress, it will last for years and you will wonder how you ever lived without it.

Try to choose a classic cut to transcend future years, such as a sheath or a dress with an empire waist. Look for vertical seams that narrow in at the waist.

A V or scoop neckline usually works for most body types. 3/4 sleeves will help your dress stretch across all seasons. Choose the sleeve length based on your body type. Sleeveless dresses work well for women with nice upper arms, whereas short sleeves, 3/4 or long help conceal wobbly upper arms. Keep in mind that 3/4 and long sleeves are much more elegant than short sleeves unless they are capped.

The perfect hemline for your new dress will be knee length. This is a timeless classic length. The hem should stop at the skinny part of your knee. The perfect black dress will emphasize your best assets and skim, not cling to, any part of your torso.

Avoid sparkly designs built into the fabric. Instead add your own sparkle with jewelry if the event dictates a little glitz. Jewelry can change your dress from glam to sophisticated. For a formal office event, accent your dress with pearls and sophisticated low-vamped pumps. For New Year’s Eve, consider wearing rhinestones and glitzy gold or silver, strappy sandals. For a less formal Christmas dinner, let the dress stand on its own with minimal, simple gold jewelry and ballerina slipper style slides.
Once you have the perfect black dress, you have the basis for several holiday outfits. A sheer wrap will transform your dress instantly. Wrap it around your shoulders, under the arms and tie it in the back to add the illusion of sleeves to a sleeveless dress. Try a satin or velvet wrap for an elegant flair.

Buy a short velvet or organza jacket that has similar lines and your dress will transform right before your eyes. Or choose a long brocade trench coat for the Audrey Hepburn look.

A faux-fur trimmed sweater or blazer can completely transform your little black dress. Buy this sweater in cranberry, eggplant or evergreen for another surprising pizzazz.

Please submit your questions to:
San Diego Professional Organizer

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Business Party Dress Codes

Dear Kathi,

For starters, I’ll admit that I am clueless about clothes, so please excuse me if this sounds like a dumb question. I have just received an invitation to a party at a business colleague’s home. The invitation reads, “holiday attire welcome.” What does this really mean to me – formal? informal? silly Santa tie? holiday sweater? – or what?
Please help me out, the event is imminent and this is an important business contact for me.

Joe, San Diego


Don’t feel bad about not knowing what to wear to this event. The invitation is cryptic at best. To decide what to wear, we need to discover a few more details.

What type of business environment does the host work in? What type of clothes does he/she normally wear on the job? What is the address of the home where the party will take place? Was the invitation personally or professionally printed? Is the event in the evening indoors or outside during the day?

When an invitation is professionally printed, scheduled in the evening and at a prestigious address, you typically want to dress more formally. If the invitation is a daytime affair set in an informal environment, you have more latitude for casual attire.

Consider closely your colleague’s normal work clothes and status. If always in khakis and polo shirts, the colleague’s event will most likely be different than if he is always in a suit and tie.

As a man, your job of hitting the mark with your outfit is much easier than a woman’s because your choices are more limited. My advice is that you can never look too sharp, especially if this is a business contact that you are trying to nurture.

As a non-suit and tie affair, you can’t go wrong wearing a pair of dark dress slacks, a collared shirt in an unusual color or pattern, (coral, teal, brown, something besides “serious” white) and a coordinating blazer. Make sure your shoes are polished and crisp; in other words, no topsiders.

If your host never wears a suit, you should follow his lead. Wear a blazer in a more casual and relaxed fabric like tweed or corduroy and a pair of dark jeans. Every man, by the way, should own a pair of dark, nicely fitting jeans. This means almost black in color and no holes. These are an invaluable addition to your wardrobe and can be dressed up or down depending on your shirt and shoes.

When you arrive at the party, quickly scan the crowd, If the blazer is too formal, take it off immediately, as if it were an outer coat. You will then blend in with the crowd at hand. NEVER wear the cute holiday sweater or tie to an unknown event. In fact, in my opinion, they should be outlawed. If you still feel overdressed, be aware that you may be the best-dressed man at the event. This is always an asset, especially if you are trying to develop business relationships.

“Holiday attire welcome” might mean that the hosts are planning on wearing clothes with a little more glitz and polish for this event. Again, you can’t go wrong with a blazer. Top your jeans with a nice crisp collared shirt and you will appear put together and sophisticated. Don’t worry if other men in the crowd are wearing funny ties and the Santa sweater that they only wear once a year. Revel in the knowledge that you know they don’t really want to wear those eyesores and that you don’t have a partner who insists that you bring one out once a year!

Please submit your questions to:
San Diego Professional Organizer

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Five Dressing Tips for a Holiday Get-Together

Five Dressing Tips for a Holiday Get-Together

If you are set on wearing red and green during the holidays, try these tips to make sure you don’t get mistaken for one of Santa’s little (more…)

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Dressing Chic and Fabulous For the Holidays

Dressing Chic and Fabulous For the Holidays

Everyone loves holiday gatherings, but not everyone knows how to dress for them. The truth is looking fabulous and not cliche does not have to be complicated. The best thing to do is wear something festive yet not distracting, and to be comfortable but not frumpy. Here are some ideas regarding what to wear to a holiday party.

First of all, don’t be afraid to wear something that you can wear to work or another occasion. There is nothing wrong with a multipurpose outfit that happens to have red, green or other popular holiday colors. As long as you put thought into it, you will look put together and people are likely to notice the appropriate color choice.

High-end fabrics such as satin work well for nice gatherings. They tend to look sophisticated, and can brighten the entire outfit. Stick to colors that are similar to precious stones, and don’t limit yourself to emerald and ruby. Just aim to look good, not necessarily match the decorations!

Ladies, don’t forget to wear jewelry and give thought to your accessories. Gold or silver earrings, necklaces, bracelets, or rings, along with the right shoes, handbags, and hair clips or pins can really add class to your holiday attire. Choose a focal point and please, don’t go crazy with glitter or sequence.

For New Year, Thanksgiving or Christmas you can use the seasons as inspiration. Think of the holiday foods and the autumn leaves when you choose colors. Match neutrals like brown or black with deep seasonal colors like orange, red, or purple. Use a rich material like cashmere and you will have a very elegant look.

Lastly, don’t forget that you need to be comfortable. Avoid wearing clothing that is too tight, hot, or awkward. At the same time, don’t just throw on a huge sweater that will make a tent over your body. You can look put together and be comfortable at the same time.

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Choosing the Perfect Colors To Compliment Your Eyes

Hi Kathi,

What colors go best with eye colors?  What Gotchas should I be aware of? Please point me in the right direction.

Thank you very much.

Regards, Lacey

Hi Lacey,

Thanks so much for this question! I am sure many others are also curious.

What I have discovered over the years is that eyes, like hair and skin tone tend to run either warm or cool, so let’s start there.

In order to answer this question and create a game plan you must always also consider the skin and hair color. The combination of all three elements will determine what colors you should wear close to your face.

Carole Jackson, author of Color Me Beautiful originally and ingeniously developed the idea of seasonal palettes and complexions. She makes it fairly easy to determine your seasonality through her in depth descriptions and color photos. You might want to pick up a copy of that book to actually see the colors that I will refer to in this article. I will also write a more detailed article about seasons and colors with and include a link to it at the end of this article once it is posted. Check back in a week or so.

Green Eyes

Green eyes come in a variety of tones, from gray/green, clear green, avocado green or hazel with a gray tone. If your eyes are gray/green, or clear green a cooler color palette will work best to compliment your eyes.

If you have the green eyes with the warmer tones of avocado or hazel, you can create a striking combination by wearing warmer colors.

Brown Eyes

Hazel / Brown eyes often have flecks of gold or green within. They would be considered a warm tone and are fun to highlight because they can change tonality or color depending on what colors are close to the face. Sometimes they can look green, sometimes gold or at other times, simply brown. These eyes work well with warm, muted colors and tones.

Some brown eyes are very dark, almost black/brown. If this sounds like your eyes and you also have blue/black hair and blue undertones in your skin, then you are probably a winter complexion and cool, clear, crisp colors will look best around your face.

Blue Eyes

Blue eyes that are deep blue with gold flecks, blue/green, turquoise will look best in softer, warmer tones.

Blue eyes that are deep blue with white flecks, aqua/ grey, clear blue, or will look best in cool colors.

I explain how to determine which season you are and the colors that will look best on you in more detail in the upcoming article titled: Seasons and What Colors to Wear. Check back next week for this article.

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A Wedding Gown for an Emerald ~ First in the Series-> A Gown for Every Body

Almost every year I find myself working with brides to help them find the perfect gown for their perfect day. For me, the ideal gown is one that will highlight their best assets and detract from their less flattering features.

This case study is about an athletic bride, a rock climber, hula hooper and yoga instructor. As a quick reference, other possible body shapes include heart shapes, trilliants, ovals, and heart on hearts.  You can check back to this site where I will be adding an article about each shape as a bride but meanwhile, let’s get back to the bride at hand.

This bride was a classic emerald shape meaning that she had an athletic build with her shoulders, hips and waist about the same size.  As an athletic adventurous woman, Stephanie started her wedding dress quest with the vision of a tea length dress, nothing fancy or bridal. Since I had known her fiance for several years, and saw the love they shared, I felt this would be her once in a lifetime wedding. I also knew that the groom’s style was simple, classic, elegant and romantic.

Due to these factors, and the fact that I am a firm believer in wearing a gorgeous gown whenever possible, I wanted to give her the sensation of wearing an actual wedding gown. If she decided at that point to stay simple and not wear a gown, that was fine.  But I knew that this was her once-in-a -lifetime chance to be in a full regalia and I felt it was important to at least put her in several versions of gowns from simple to floor length with train so that she could make an educated decision.

Well, needless to say, once this bride-to-be experienced the Cinderella feeling of wearing a ‘real’ wedding gown, there was no turning back. She quickly embraced the fun and beauty of wearing a once in a lifetime gown!

The gown we ended up selecting was simple and classic. The A-Line was a perfect choice knowing that a true ball gown would be way too much for this particular bride. The key ingredients of a sweetheart neckline and an A-Line construction were included.

I really wanted to build a few curves into her athletic shape and the sweetheart neckline combined with diagonal pleating in a criss-cross pattern added effortless curves. The A-line shape with asymmetrical pleating along the full bodice added curves in all of the right places. The ivory fabric was chosen because it was perfect for her complexion and the floating pearl necklace and earrings were her something borrowed from me!

This close up  photo shows the details included on this gown. Note the asymmetrical layering and floral embellishment at the hip. Both of these, along with the sweetheart bodice and neckline added curves where it counts.

This gown had just enough train to work for an outdoor wedding and the bride and groom were able to kick up their heels in the surf after the wedding with the gown bustled!

And they live happily ever after with baby Bella now in their life!


For Your Quick Reference:

For heart shapes, I add weight below the waist to balance the top of the dress with the bottom.


For the emerald shapes, I build in curves.



Heart on Heart Shapes need to keep their balance and accentuate their curves. If you’ve got it, flaunt it!



For the inverted heart or trilliant, I add volume on the top.


When styling oval shapes I create a visual waistline and often choose empire construction.


Check back often for more wedding gown articles. This is the first in the Gown For Every Body series.

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Tricks for Transitioning from Work to Retiree Wardrobe

Dear Kathi,

Women go through many changes in their lives. Making the transition from work clothing to retirement is my most difficult challenge. My eyes still wander to classic clothing when shopping instead of cute, fun, playful, retirement appropriate styles.

Thanks for all your help with what works after 60.




Dear Pat,

I am a strong believer in classic timeless wardrobes. That being said, it is really fun to play with trends throughout your life and this should not stop as you get older. I love seeing retirees (more…)

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